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ATSC And Why We're So Excited About Its Future

ATSC And Why We're So Excited About Its Future

Yes, we often throw that term around over here. It's almost always related to free-to-air TV and terrestrial connections. 

But what exactly is ATSC?

It stands for Advanced Television Systems Committee and, as the name suggests, it a set of standards for digital television transmission over terrestrial, cable, and satellite networks in North America, parts of Central America and South Korea.

From analog to digital

Even though your TV antenna still receives UHF or VHF signals, the standard has changed from the good old NTSC to the new digital ATSC. This processed started on 2009 in the United States, followed by Canada on 2011, South Korea on 2012 and both Mexico and Dominican Republic on 2015.

A process that asked for a change of tuners capable of decoding ATSC and work with the much larger digital signals, rendering NTSC tuners obsolete.

Old NTSC tuners would support analog signals and use a standard frame refresh rate of slightly under 30 frames per second, 525 scan lines, an aspect ratio of 4:3 and an FM (yeap, like an FM radio) sound signal. Whereas ATSC tuners support HDTV signals with a wide-screen aspect ratio of 16:9, resolutions up to 1920 x 1080 pixels (meaning FullHD), refresh rates ranging from 24 to 60 frames per second and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

It’s easy to say this was a most welcome revolution.

Despite old TV’s losing their ability to decode the new digital television, it doesn’t mean they need to be thrown away. Set-top boxes like WeTek Play 2 can easily decode the signal and feed to a TV not equipped with an ATSC tuner.  To know more about WeTek Modular Tuners, visit our dedicated web page and read our articles on modular tuners and how antennas are making a comeback.

ATSC 3.0 - the incoming future!

As ATSC’s newsletter states ATSC 3.0 “may leapfrog ATSC 2.0.“

Among the upcoming developments, you can expect support for mobile television, 3D television, 4K UHD, HDR, high frame rate, and wide color gamut.

Even though we cannot pinpoint a specific date for regular transmissions to start, South Korea has begun testing the new standard with the first end-to-end broadcast of 4K Ultra HD. This test broadcast featured a live camera feed with real-time IP transmissions from the SBS network studio to the broadcaster’s Gwanak Mountain transmitter.